In Between, the Feelies' sixth album, opens with the sound of a campfire and crickets, and if that is meant to suggest this is the work of happy campers throwing a hootenanny, well, that's truer than one might imagine. The Feelies usually make music that's propelled by a relentless nervous energy generated by catchy, minimalist melodies and layers of hyperactive percussion, but 2017's In Between dials back a bit on the tempos as well as the electric guitars. Melodically, this is instantly recognizable as the Feelies, but not the coffee-fueled rave-ups of 1980's Crazy Rhythms or 1991's Time for a Witness. Instead, this recalls the more pastoral feel of 1986's The Good Earth, and if anything, this album is a considerably quieter and restrained effort than that. The Feelies sounded strong and full-bodied on their 2011 comeback, Here Before, but by this group's standards, In Between sounds and feels relaxed, less eager to force a groove and more willing to let the songs go where they will. But in the great tradition of the third Velvet Underground album, relative quiet and restraint don't equal a lack of focus and commitment, and on their own terms, these songs are moody but absorbing, subtle in their attack but full of a haunting sort of beauty that the Feelies' more robust recordings don't always catch. The interlocking guitars of Glenn Mercer and Bill Million are still outstanding, the percussion team of Stanley Demeski and Dave Weckerman hold down the rhythms with a singular feel, and Brenda Sauter's warm but rock-solid bass holds it all together beautifully. And if this indulges the more easygoing side of the Feelies most of the time, the wiry "Gone Gone Gone" and big-guitar reprise of "In Between" (complete with "I Wanna Be Your Dog"-style piano) will satisfy fans who want to hear this band rock out. In Between is usually quiet, but it's never cautious; this is very much the work of one of America's best and most venerable independent bands, and it confirms the Feelies are still a genuine creative force as they approach their 40th anniversary. ~ Mark Deming
- Format: Vinyl
- Genre: Rock
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Meta Artist: Feelies